There are spoilers for episodes one through four of Moon Knight; you’ve been warned.
Moon Knight, the latest Marvel series to hit Disney+, is finding its stride. The Oscar Isaac-led streaming show initially focused on the seemingly ordinary Steven Grant (Isaac) who suffered from sleepwalking and fits of confusion. As Moon Knight unfurled four of its six episodes, not all was as it seemed: Steven has dissociative identity disorder (DID) and shares his body with violent mercenary Marc Spector (Isaac still), who is imbued with special powers courtesy of the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu. Oh, and Marc is married to Layla El-Faouly, a daring adventurer in her own right.
As Steven’s world is turned upside down by these revelations, he’s reluctantly dragged along to Egypt in search of answers to stop zealot Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) from summoning the Egyptian goddess Ammit. Right as it seems as if Lyla and Steven/Marc will succeed, Steven/Marc are shot inside a pyramid...only to wake up inside of a psychiatric hospital. Marc, separated from Steven, encounters Harrow as a therapist who tells him that his time spent as Khonshu’s avatar is a figment of his imagination. Marc manages to escape and find Steven trapped inside a sarcophagus. As the two proceed throughout the hospital, they run into a giant hippo-head figure, which is where we are now.
Ahead of the series’ penultimate episode, Complex briefly chatted with Oscar Isaac and May Calamawy during a recent Moon Knight press junket to discuss subverting the traditional gender tropes of adventure tales, Episode 4’s big ending, and more.
In episode four, we see this typical adventuring script flipped where May, you get to step into more of the Indiana Jones-type adventurer, while Oscar, you’re the comedic relief. What was it like for you two to switch up these typical archetypes?
May Calamawy: It felt really empowering! At the time, it just felt like we were doing what needed to be done. So there isn’t that thought, but when you watch it—I guess I haven’t thought of it that way. That’s really interesting.
Oscar Isaac: The intention wasn’t necessarily to do that. The intention was, what does Steven know, what does Layla know and how do those two things complement each other. Steven takes over because of the puzzle nature of solving the puzzles—that’s why we kind of added this Rubik’s cube thing at the beginning [of the series]. His interest there—his nerdier pursuits—seem to fit in with what was really needed there. Layla is much more used to combat than Steven is. But I think ultimately you’re right, those things get a bit subverted. That was something that was fun to play with.
May, how did you change your interactions between Steven and Marc? I know it’s still Oscar, but I would imagine your approach to engaging with each respective character has to change slightly.
MC: Oscar did such a good job of embodying each person that I didn’t have to sort of go through any steps or intellectualize how I would act with each one. It was just a response. I could tell that with Steven, Layla would need to have a more gentle approach there. That’s what came out naturally and what allowed him to open up in ways. Whereas with Marc, there’s just so much history there. The communication needs to be a bit more direct if she wants to get what she wants.
Oscar, how are you working through that process on your end?
OI: It was just about being very clear about the two characters and how they’re different apart from the accent, how they hold themselves, how they approach other people—particularly Layla. It was just a process of getting really specific with those two things. I kept shooting, when we first got there, I really only wanted to do one character a day. I didn’t wanna switch too much between the two. I wasn’t really secure enough to do that. As time went on, I got more comfortable between the two and felt like I found an honest way to do that.